A school board candidate forum that was planned for last evening, Monday, October 16, was cancelled abruptly the day of the event after the venue hosting the event, Good Judy’s Bar & Club downtown, received a violent threat on Facebook.
The threat was in the form of a comment written by Luke Mitchell under a “Mesa County Liberty Report” post announcing the forum. The “Liberty Report” page is favored by local conservatives and hosted by an unnamed person who describes himself as a “media personality.” The site description says it gives readers “a perspective that local corporate media won’t give you in Mesa County,” yet it posts news articles from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, KREX-TV, the New York Times, CNBC and other corporate media outlets.
Commenters under the school board post called the venue “a leftist bar” and an “alphabet bar” (referring to the letters LGBTQ, as in “LGBTQ-friendly.”) Beneath those comments, Luke Mitchell wrote,
“Good time to clean up lots of problems at once.”
Mitchell has made other posts on Facebook that embrace violence and indicate his disdain for gay people.
The planned forum was a joint effort between KWSI 100.3 Radio, Karis House, a local nonprofit homeless shelter for youth 13-24, and Good Judy’s Bar and Club at First and Main Streets. Attendance at the event was free and it was open to the public, but people were asked to register for the event online. Good Judy’s is a gay-friendly bar in downtown Grand Junction. The threat appeared as a comment underneath a post letting people know about the event:
In 2016, a mass shooter opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a gay-friendly venue, killing 49 people and wounding 53 more. The FBI considered it an act of terror and a hate crime.
The announcement of the school board forum on the Mesa County Liberty Report appeared on October 6, and on October 9, the proprietor of Good Judy’s contacted the Grand Junction police with reports of cyberbullying and threats of violence against the bar.
The police report (pdf) says a person “reported issues with cyberbullying at the business” and “reported the business is getting threats about harming people there. The party “stated Good Judy’s is hosting an event for the school board campaign” and “stated the bar’s Facebook page was receiving threats.” The reporting party “appeared concerned that an incident may occur at the event.” The responding officer said “I reviewed the Facebook comments and the following is a summary: In the photo, a Facebook user states “Time to clean up lots of problems at once.” The police entered screenshots of the threats into evidence in case something occurred.
The school board candidate forum is currently being rescheduled.